Mission and Purpose
The Institute for 21st Century Agoras (AGORAS), an international nonprofit 501(c)(3) [EIN 03-0466448] education entity incorporated in the State of California in June 2002, is a membership organization composed of university-affiliated, independent, and corporate social system design managers who promote and enable the practice of authentic, large group, collaborative design. The AGORAS operates as a “virtual organization” conducting most of its business through conferences and convened regional and international meetings. Corporate Headquarters are located at the Executive Director’s preferred mailing address, which at this time is 8213 Hwy 85 #901, Riverdale, Georgia 30274 USA. The corporate website is www.globalagoras.org.
By corporate charter, the AGORAS will:
- Promote the idea of human connectedness and interdependence (the “global village”)
- Promote democratic processes for addressing the problems and opportunities associated with global economic and political integration (“globalization”)
- Promote the establishment of co-laboratories of democracy (also known as 21st Century Agoras)
The AGORAS pioneers the adaptation of tools forged from systems science and civic engagement to enable groups to take on "wicked problems" of the 21st century and discover both the depth of their situation and the preferred path for their collective futures
The AGORAS is a reincarnation of a lost tribe of the original Club of Rome. Some histories report that the Club of Rome was founded in April 1968 by Aurelio Peccei, an Italian scholar, industrialist and author of The Chasm Ahead, and Alexander King, a Scottish scientist., and operated with an informal "inner group" that included four others: Hugo Thiemann (Director of the Battelle Institute in Geneva), Max Kohnstamm Former Secretary General of the ECSC), Jean Saint-Geours (Ministry of Finance in Paris) and Erich Jantsch, author of "Technological Forecasting.” Aurelio Peccei brought Hasan Özbekhan and Alexander Christakis into the circle in 1970. Shortly thereafter, Alexander Christakis and Hasan Özbekhan discontinued their affiliation due to profound philosophical disagreements about the hierarchical nature of the global planning process which the Club of Rome chose to adopt. Forty years later, Alexander Christakis has returned to launch the AGORAS equipped with tools that enable the bottoms up planning capacities so critically missing from the Club of Rome
[for an update on the Club of Rome see: http://www.clubofrome.org/eng/about/4/].
Specializations and activities
To Promote the Idea of Human Connectedness and Interdependence
The AGORAS has an email practitioner and interested party base of 2000 professionals distributed world wide as of December 2008. The AGORAS communicates to this practitioner base through an electronic newsletter called “The Agora eBuzz” and through a corporate website.
The AGORAS provides informational seminars, published reports, and training opportunities on structured dialogic design, and provides resource identification assistance for individuals or organizations who are looking for certified SDD practitioners in their geographic region or in their specific field of application. This social networking includes linking practitioners on the basis of SDD project histories.
The AGORAS identifies and engages sources of philanthropic and competitive grant support to convene practitioners into campaigns for social transformation through authentic democratic processes.
To Promote Democratic Process
The AGORAS maintains an archive of field applications of SDD under the oversight of a corporate research director. Archives will be accepted from any and all individuals who use structured dialogic design for democratic social system services, and collaborative research proposals will be seriously considered from all professional organizations addressing complex challenges which can advance resolution of global economic and political isolation.
The AGORAS maintains an active presence at societies and associations that promote applied democracy through citizen engagement and participation.
The AGORAS will seek to host one international summit or retreat for the global practice of structured dialogic design on a five year cycle, and will derive from these summits a consensus view of the barriers, opportunities, or essential action options required to advance the global democracy.
To Promote the Establishment of Co-laboratories
The AGORAS maintains and distributes free Microsoft DOS software (with a users guide) to introduce emerging practitioners to tools for constructing influence maps under the structured dialogic design protocol.
The AGORAS holds the service mark (trademark) from the US Patent and Trademark Office for the commercial use of “structured dialogic design” (SDD) in the field of social system design, and the AGORAS certifies participation in official SDD informational events as well as achievement of levels of proficiency of practice through its certified SDD training and apprenticeship programs. SDD training is currently provided by individually recognized SDD experts in classrooms and communities in Cyprus, Mexico, the United States of America, The United Kingdom, India, Japan and Australia. In all locations, SDD differentiates itself as a technical collaborative design practice distinct from traditional facilitation service. Making this distinction, however, can put SDD into a position which may seem to compete with local group facilitation practices. The AGORAS seeks to support local group facilitation practices when these practices find themselves dealing with a social system problem that is genuinely a wicked problem (e.g., the important elements of the problem are misunderstood or poorly understood, rapidly evolving, and interacting with each other in unpredictable ways).
Major projects and events
The AGORAS typically works in groups that are recruited to inclusively convene distinct perspectives from across communities of practice and communities of place. These events range in size from 30 to several hundered participants. The full scope of engagement in the 40 year history of this practice fills several recent books.
The AGORAS coordinates practitioner teams for groundbreaking applications of structured dialogic design. Some of these innovative applications include:
1. Curriculum design and education system reorganization
2. Online decision making platforms
3. Healthcare system evolution
4. Municipal decision making process enhancement
AGORAS co-laboratories of democracy are funded by philanthropic sponsors at the community, state, national and intenational level.
Co-Laboratories of Democracy: How People Harness Their Collective Wisdon to Create the Future By: Alexander N. Christakis & Kenneth C. Bausch The Talking Point: Creating an Environment for Exploring Complex MeaningBy: Thomas R. Flanagan & Alexander N. Christakis
A Democratic Approach to Sustainable Futures: A Workbook for Addressing the Global Problematique
By Thomas Flanagan & Kenneth Bausch